Bristol-Myers taps Oncodesign to serve up targets for new cancer drugs

Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) recruited French biotech Oncodesign to help it find new ways of attacking tumors, signing an early-stage agreement in hopes of spotlighting some promising projects.

Under the deal, Oncodesign gets $3 million up front to begin screening some proprietary molecules against a group of Bristol-Myers-selected targets, and the company is in line for up to $80 million for each potential hit. Oncodesign is responsible for identifying drug candidates and handing over projects to its partner to handle preclinical and clinical development. Bristol-Myers will hold commercialization rights to any resulting products, the companies said, with Oncodesign in line for tiered royalties and milestone payments tied to future sales.

Key to the collaboration is Oncodesign's Nanocyclix platform, Bristol-Myers said, through which the company says it can boost the potency and binding power of small-molecule therapies. Oncodesign has a library of more than 5,000 kinase inhibitors stemming from Nanocyclix, targeting cancer and other diseases.

"This strategic collaboration is by far the largest one we have entered into up to now; it will allow us to fully exploit the potential of our technology platforms in both chemistry and biology," Oncodesign CEO Philippe Genne said in a statement.

Oncodesign, which went public on the Euronext exchange in 2014, has parlayed its drug-discovery technology into similar partnerships with Sanofi ($SNY), Ipsen and UCB.

For Bristol-Myers, which sells the market-leading cancer immunotherapy Opdivo, the deal is an effort to expand its early-stage oncology pipeline. Beyond the PD-1-blocking Opdivo, acquired in a $2.4 billion deal for Medarex in 2009, Bristol-Myers has disclosed 5 immuno-oncology treatments and 6 traditional cancer drugs in development.

- read the statement